Gary Barber's Grade 3 Durham Cup winner Delegation, whom trainer Mark Casse termed as "a little wound up" earlier in the week, is settling into a routine with two days remaining before his start in the Dirt Mile.
"Delegation galloped this morning and then went back to school in the gate because he was a little antsy there yesterday," said Casse, who brings a contingent of five horses into the Breeders' Cup. "He was much better today and I'm pleased with him."
Now it's a matter of keeping the three-year-old son of 2004 Sprint champion Speightstown and the rest (Pool Play in the Classic, Dynamic Sky in the Juvenile, Spring in the Air in the Juvenile Filles and Spring Venture in the Juvenile Fillies Turf) on target until the gates open.
"All systems are go and we're in countdown to blast off," said Casse, who is looking for his first Breeders' Cup win after 10 previous tries. "At this point, you hope everybody stays healthy and stays safe."
Casse, ranked fifth among all North American trainers in earnings with $9,074,935 and also fifth in the number of graded stakes wins (13), is having his most successful season. The four-time Sovereign Award winner as Canada's outstanding trainer credits Pool Play's owner Bill Farish with giving him a leg up earlier in his career.
"So much of what's going on in my life has to do with Bill," said Casse, who estimates he has won about 30 stakes this year and will saddle five horses in the Breeders' Cup. "I was kind of just going along and Bill gave me the opportunity to go out and buy some horses and show what I could do, and then others took notice. So I owe a lot to Bill."
Casse will saddle Dynamic Sky in the Juvenile and Spring in the Air in the Juvenile Fillies for John Oxley, with whom he has been associated for many years, as well as Delegation in the Dirt Mile and Spring Venture in the Juvenile Fillies Turf for Barber, with whom he had dinner Wednesday night.
"I only met Gary for the first time this week even though I've been training for him for two years. He's a wonderful man and he's pretty hands on. He knows what's going on and he knows what he's doing," Casse said. "Mr. Oxley, and his wife as well, love this game and he told me they are living the dream. They're on their way to Santa Anita and are very excited.
"We're fortunate in that we have some wonderful owners who have faith in us and are letting us go out and spend the money. Hopefully, it will be a snowball effect. In this business, I never take anything for granted. I live each day happy with it all."
Shackleford, last year's Dirt Mile runner-up, will be among the favorites for this year's race as he nears the end of a stellar career.
Shackleford was to be among trainer Dale Romans' Breeders' Cup starters scheduled to school in the paddock Thursday, but the trainer said he still expects his horse to be on his toes.
"He's still not going to want me to saddle him," Romans said. "He's going to make me work for it like he always does, but if he didn't, that's when I'd worry."
It's been hard to miss the Argentina import Calidoscopio since
his arrival in California nearly two months ago to prepare for the Marathon as
he is the only horse to be galloped bareback every morning and he wears a white
The bonnet not only helps make the horse easy to spot, but is supposed to also to help prevent, "head colds," according to his trainer Guillermo Frenkel.
It is traditional for all horses to train without saddles in Argentina, and Frenkel explained that his horse is "too old to change his routine." The only time he has worn a saddle was the three times that jockey Aaron Gryder has been aboard for workouts, including an unusual 1 1/4-mile workout October 20, that was only given the one-mile time of 1:43 2/5.
"He's an old, smart horse," said Gryder, who has the mount Friday. "And, he has a great kick for a distance horse."
The other unusual thing about Calidoscopio, who earned his way into the Breeders' Cup by winning the Group 2 Premio General Belgrano in his home country, is that he will wear a blindfold that covers his entire face and comes all the way down to his chest as he enters the starting gate.
Frenkel, 54, is from Buenos Aires and based at San Isidro racetrack. His family was in the horse business and he grew up on a ranch. He became a veterinarian, and after about 10 years trying to build a vet business, he shifted to training, largely because it was nearly impossible to do both jobs in Argentina.
He's won all the major races including the Gran Premio de Republica Argentina and races in the Estrellas series (the South American championships).
Calidoscopio's owner, Juan Carlos Echeverz, heads seven partners. He is a rancher/farmer in Cordoba province and has a residence in Buenos Aires. He is on the board of San Isidro racetrack.